Golden Retrievers are known to have thick and fluffy coats. So when Goldies’ hair starts to thin, it’s normal for pet owners to worry. Why is my Golden Retriever’s hair thinning, you ask? The most common reason behind it is seasonal shedding. However, it can also point to poor diet, parasitic infestations, health issues, and more. Even stress can cause your dog’s hair to fall off.
In this post, I will discuss each of these potential reasons and what you need to do about it. Golden Retrievers are quite high maintenance dogs, so you need to pay a lot of attention to their coat.
Just remember that coat health is more than just brushing and bathing. It also involves proper diet, regular vet checks, and more that I discussed below.
Why is my Golden Retriever’s hair thinning?
Losing a small amount of hair is normal for Golden Retrievers. But if it’s causing your dog’s hair to thin beyond normal, the following might be the reasons why.
1. Seasonal shedding
On a less serious note, your Goldie’s thinning hair might be the result of seasonal shedding. Golden Retrievers will have a thick and fluffy coat during the winter season.
But as spring sets in, you’ll notice heavy shedding and hair thinning. This is considered normal as your Golden Retriever sheds its thick winter coat to grow a shorter version for summer. The total amount of hair your Goldie will shed at this point can form clumps, but it’s nothing to be worried about.
Seasonal shedding can be dramatic, so don’t panic just yet. This happens twice a year, also known as ‘blowing coat’ since Golden Retrievers lose a crazy amount of hair in a matter of weeks.
However, this shedding must be even. It shouldn’t leave bare or bald spots on your dog’s coat. If it does, that’s the time you’d have to consult the veterinarian.
2. Poor diet
Another possible culprit here is poor diet. Your Golden Retriever’s coat is the reflection of the nutrition it gets. If you’re feeding him cheap and substandard dog food, don’t be surprised if your pet’s hair will become thin and lackluster.
Remember that a dog’s coat is made of around 90% protein. If the Goldie doesn’t get enough protein from its food, the dog’s body will find it hard to grow new and thicker hair strands.
Aside from protein, Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA are very important for the growth of a healthy Golden Retriever coat. These nutrients inhibit the dog’s inflammatory reactions. With this, your Golden Retriever will have normal histamine content on its skin. This means less itching and scratching.
Biotin is also a major nutrient in preventing your dog’s hair from thinning. This vitamin aids in the utilization of protein, so your Goldie can have thicker and healthier hair.
All of these nutrients can be sourced from a complete and balanced diet. This is why you should never cut corners on your dog’s food.
3. Parasitic infestations
Parasitic infestations are one of the most common reasons behind coat problems among dogs. These blood-sucking and nutrient-stealing parasites will wreak havoc on your Golden Retriever’s coat. Over time, it won’t just thin your dog’s hair; the parasites can also put your pet’s life at risk.
The following are the most common parasites reported in many Golden Retrievers:
- Fleas. These wingless insects latch on a dog’s skin and feed on its blood. The itchy bites will push your dog to lick, chew, and scratch the affected areas. Over time, you’ll notice hair thinning and balding all over your Goldie’s body.
- Ticks. Ticks are tiny arachnids that also feed on their host’s blood. Like fleas, tick bites are itchy, and they can trigger infections that will cause hair loss among dogs.
- Mange. Mange is an umbrella term for all skin infections caused by mites. An affected Golden Retriever will suffer from itchy skin as the parasite lives in the dog’s hair follicles. As the insects burrow on the skin, your dog will lose hair.
- Worms. Sometimes, the enemy is inside your dog’s body. The likes of whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms will steal your dog’s nutrition. An affected Golden Retriever will experience unexplainable weight loss, thinning hair, and lethargy. This problem only becomes worse as time goes by, so early treatment is crucial.
4. Thyroid problems
Hair thinning among Golden Retrievers is also attributed to conditions like hypothyroidism. This condition occurs when a dog’s thyroid becomes underactive. When this happens, your dog’s metabolism will slow down.
Hypothyroidism will lead to unexplained weight gain, cold intolerance, dull and thinning hair, and dark skin pigmentation. Some Goldies will also have thickened facial skin and a lack of heat periods.
Unfortunately, hypothyroidism isn’t curable, but there’s a way to manage the condition. The vet can provide oral thyroid hormone replacements to equalize the hormonal imbalance. A change in diet and lifestyle is also necessary to minimize the effects of this thyroid problem.
5. Allergies and infections
Like humans, Golden Retrievers can also develop skin allergies. These allergies can lead to hair thinning, among other problems.
Since Golden Retrievers love playing outdoors, they are prone to atopic dermatitis. It’s usually triggered by environmental elements like pollens, dust, molds, and more. Most affected Goldies have inherited the predisposition to this allergy from one of its parent dogs.
Another common allergy among dogs is food allergies. This occurs when a canine’s immune system perceives a harmless food ingredient as something dangerous. It then wrongfully attacks the body, which will lead to skin problems, hair thinning, diarrhea, and more.
Moreover, many Golden Retrievers also suffer from a condition called Staphylococcal hypersensitivity. As with allergies, the dog’s body overreacts to the normal levels of Staphylococcus bacteria on the skin.
In most cases, this hypersensitivity occurs in Golden Retrievers who are also suffering from thyroid problems and inhalant allergy.
Remember that each Golden Retriever is unique, and so is its allergies. It’s important to get your dog tested if you suspect that it suffers from some kind of allergic reaction.
Yes, even stress can cause hair thinning in dogs. In this case, hair thinning is the result of the Golden Retriever’s coping mechanisms like tail licking, pawing, and chewing its skin. Over time, your Goldie will lose patches of hair until it gets bald.
Moreover, stress and anxiety can also develop compulsive behavior among dogs, including hair pulling. Veterinarians can’t find any medical reason for it, but it’s largely attributed to the canine’s mental condition. And since Golden Retrievers are prone to anxiety, they are at risk of developing these problems.
But what causes extreme stress on Golden Retrievers? The most common is being left alone for long hours. However, massive changes like moving to a new house, welcoming a new pet, or passing a loved one can also trigger stress.
7. Pregnancy and lactation
Due to hormonal shifts, both dogs and humans can experience hair loss during pregnancy. This condition is temporary and will likely stop after the puppies have been weaned from the mother dog.
Pregnancy can deplete your Golden Retrievers nutrition, which can lead to poor coat health. Heavy shedding out of season will occur because of this. Take note that shedding due to pregnancy can linger up until the nursing period of your dog.
8. Old age
Lastly, a Golden Retriever will slowly suffer from thinning hair as it grows older. This is due to the diminishing hormone levels typical to a senior canine. While this is somewhat inevitable, proper care can help delay the onset of age-related hair loss.
Also, senior Golden Retrievers are prone to health problems, which can thin their coat further. At this point, your dog needs regular vet visits to help treat the health conditions before it gets worse.
How can I stop my Golden Retriever from losing too much hair?
The truth is that you can’t stop your Golden Retriever from shedding. Still, you can do something to prevent your dog from losing too much hair. Here are some tips that worked for my dogs:
✔️Consider giving your dog an Omega-3 supplement.
If your dog’s hair is thinning due to a lack of Omega-3 fatty acids, a supplement might do the trick. Fish oil capsules are a great choice here. It’s natural and very palatable for your Golden Retriever. You can also add fish oil to your dog’s kibble for an added dose of coat vitamins.
Nevertheless, you should ask your dog’s vet first before buying an Omega-3 supplement. The vet can surely recommend a good product that matches your dog’s needs.
✔️Provide a complete and balanced diet
Supplements are called as such because it’s only meant to enhance your dog’s diet. Supplements fill the gap on your dog’s meals, but it’s not meant to replace a full and healthy diet.
For Golden Retrievers, it’s very important to provide a complete and balanced diet. Always look for dog food products that meet the AAFCO or Association of American Feed Control Officials‘ nutrient profiles. This guarantees that the dog food product is properly formulated for your dog’s age and size.
✔️Use a hydrating dog shampoo
Proper grooming is also crucial if you want to keep your Golden Retriever’s coat thick and shiny. You should get a hydrating dog shampoo that will ease irritations and remove dirt that could trigger allergies.
Take note that dog shampoo products can be medicated, which means it’s mixed with an active ingredient. This is used on dogs with skin infections that regular shampoo products can’t cure.
If you’re looking for a maintenance shampoo product, a colloidal oatmeal formula is a good choice for most dogs. It helps soothe irritated skin while neutralizing bad odor and moisturizing the dog’s coat.
✔️Prevent parasitic infestations
Prevention is the only permanent cure for various canine parasitic infections. For ticks, fleas, and mites, a broad-spectrum topical preventive will provide month-long protection for every dose. But if your Golden Retriever is already suffering from an infestation, the vet can prescribe an oral treatment that will kill the insect pests upon feeding on your dog’s blood.
Meanwhile, regular deworming treatments are also necessary to prevent the proliferation of heartworm, ringworm, tapeworm, and so on. Almost all Golden Retrievers will receive this treatment as part of veterinarians’ immunization program for canines.
✔️Brush your dog properly
Daily brushing is still necessary even if your Golden Retriever’s hair is thinning. Through brushing, you can examine your dog’s skin to see if there’s any discoloration, insect bites, wounds, and irritation. This will let you seek the proper treatment, so your dog won’t suffer from excessive hair loss later on.
✔️Schedule regular vet visits
I can’t stress this enough: vet clinics aren’t just for emergencies. You should take your Goldie to the vet for routine checks, regardless if it has a health problem or not. This way, the veterinarian can diagnose a health condition even before it causes adverse symptoms like hair thinning.
Self-medicating your dog at home may do more harm than help. As much as you’d want to save some bucks, skipping vet checks may lead to expensive treatments later on.
✔️Keep your home clean.
Lastly, always keep your home clean, especially if your Golden Retriever has a severe history of atopic dermatitis. A clean home is also beneficial to you since dust and dirt can trigger allergies in humans.
Make it a habit to wash your dog’s bed, toys, and food bowls. You should also vacuum clean to collect shed fur and dander so that it won’t get into your furniture.
Also, you should keep pesticides, cleaning agents, and other chemicals locked away from your dog’s reach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it normal for Golden Retrievers to lose a lot of hair?
A: It’s normal for Golden Retrievers to lose a lot of hair during the heavy shedding season. However, this hair loss must be even and not in patches. If you notice that your dog’s hair is falling off in clumps and leaving bald spots, you should bring it to the vet right away.
Q: Why is my dog’s hair thinning on her back?
A: Thinning hair on an isolated area of the dog’s body can be due to parasites like ticks, fleas, and mites. You also have to check if your dog is chewing or licking the area excessively. Adverse reactions to shampoo, food, medication, and other external substances can also result in localized hair loss among dogs.
Q: Why is my Golden Retriever shedding too much hair all of a sudden?
A: While it’s normal for Golden Retrievers to experience heavy shedding as the seasons change, you should watch out for excessive hair fall. This might be due to hormonal imbalances, parasites, and infections. Checking your dog’s coat and skin will give you an idea of the reason behind the sudden shedding.
Q: On what months do Golden Retrievers get their hair thin?
A: Golden Retrievers shed the most during fall and spring. This is due to the changing seasons as the dog readies its body for the extreme winter and summer weather. Lots of grooming is needed here to prevent matting.
Q: Do worms cause dogs to have thin hair?
A: Worm infestations can make your dog’s hair thin as it sucks and steals nutrients. So even if your Golden Retriever is eating enough, the worms will interfere with your pet’s nutrition. In the end, its coat will look dull, thin, and brittle.
Why is my Golden Retriever’s hair thinning? This condition can be due to regular heavy shedding or poor diet. However, you should also rule out other possibilities like health problems, compulsive behavior, pregnancy, and old age. All of these factors can cause hair thinning in dogs if not addressed right away.